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Published: Monday March 10, 2014 MYT 3:16:11 AM
Updated: Monday March 10, 2014 MYT 3:17:02 AM

French accident board offers help recovering missing jet

PARIS (Reuters) - France's air accident board, which led a three-year investigation into the 2009 loss of an Air France jet in the Atlantic, has offered to help Malaysia and Vietnam with the recovery of a missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

"We have communicated to Malaysian and Vietnamese authorities that we are ready to assist with the underwater search operations or recovery of wreckage," a spokeswoman for the Paris-based BEA accident investigation branch said on Sunday.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has also offered to help with the recovery of the Boeing 777, which vanished en route to China with 239 people on board and is presumed to have crashed. So far no confirmed trace of the plane has been found, more than 48 hours after it disappeared.

Air France Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris vanished in a storm on June 1, 2009, triggering an international hunt for wreckage and black boxes, in a case that bears similarities to the disappearance of the Malaysian jet.

The recorders were eventually hauled nearly 4 km (2.5 miles) to the sea's surface nearly two years later after an unprecedented deep-water search operation costing $50 million.

Investigators found that ice had caused faulty speed sensor readings on the plane but pilot error had also played a part, as the crew's handling of the plane after the auto-pilot was disengaged put it into a stall from which it could not recover.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Lionel Laurent and Mark Trevelyan)

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